5 Things: Harper-Strickland Brawl Dominates MLB News Cycle

By Sam McPherson

It was an interesting week in baseball, coming off the Memorial Day weekend, with fights, home runs, wins, losses and a first-ever moment for the best player in the game. Here’s what you might have missed last week in major-league action.

Mike Trout makes first-ever disabled list visit

In his first five full MLB seasons, the Los Angeles Angels outfielder has never finished lower than second in the Most Valuable Player balloting for the American League. That could change this year as Trout injured ligaments in his thumb and had to go on the disabled list for the first time in his stellar career.

The best player in baseball will be out for six-to-eight weeks after having surgery to repair the injury. Regardless of which team is your favorite, any real fan of the sport has to be saddened to know Trout is going to be on the shelf for awhile.

San Francisco reliever Hunter Strickland picks a fight with Washington star Bryce Harper

The Giants only make the news these days for sad moments like this, as Strickland hit Harper intentionally with a pitch on Memorial Day as alleged payback for some postseason theatrics back in 2014. Just watching the reaction of S.F. catcher Buster Posey on the play tells any baseball fan all that’s needed to know about the incident.

The S.F. pitcher was suspended by MLB for eight games due to his actions, while Harper ended up receiving a three-game suspension and missing the final game of the series between the two teams as well as the first two games of the subsequent series in Oakland.

Houston wins ten straight games, on pace for 116 wins in 2017

The Astros have been to the World Series just once, back in 2005, but they are now the prohibitive favorites in the AL for this year’s Fall Classic. With a 41-16 record as of June 5, the Houston squad is on pace for 116 wins this season, thanks to improbably efforts like this crazy comeback on Memorial Day.

By scoring 11 runs in the eighth inning against the AL Central-leading Minnesota Twins, the Astros certainly served notice they can never be counted out of a game in 2017. Houston just has it going right now, period.

Championship hangover continues in Chicago

Although the Cubs did recover to win three straight over the St. Louis Cardinals last weekend, the defending World Series victors are struggling this year. Chicago had lost six straight games at one point last week, after not having a losing streak of more than five games during their run to the 2016 title.

The San Diego Padres are the worst team in baseball, but they managed to sweep the champs last week. That’s how bad it’s been for the Cubs, despite the fact they are just one game out of first place in the lackluster National League Central Division.

Josh Donaldson back and roaring at the plate

As we noted last week, 2015 AL MVP Josh Donaldson returned from missing 38 games with an injury, and the Toronto Blue Jays couldn’t be happier. Somehow just 5.5 games out of first place in the ferocious AL East, Donaldson and his teammates are ready to make a run at a third straight AL Championship Series appearance.

Donaldson has hit four home runs in his five games back so far, and the Blue Jays posted seven wins in their recent ten-game home stand in Toronto. The rest of the American League better take notice.

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